Nathan Erickson, CFA, CAIA
Senior Vice President/ Client Portfolio Manager
Bell Institutional Investment Management
For a client-facing portfolio manager who enjoys serving his Bell Institutional Investment Management clients through both relationships and analysis, Nathan Erickson, CFA, CAIA, has a remarkably good setup to socially distance during a pandemic. After a quick, ten-minute commute to his office at Bell Bank in downtown Fargo, North Dakota, Nathan can take a back stairwell up to his office and only encounter two to three other people. On other days, he can work from home depending on what’s on his schedule.
As Senior Vice President/Client Portfolio Manager, Nathan meets with the boards and investment committees of endowments, foundations and retirement plans to properly understand their goals, effectively manage their investment portfolios and consult on their Investment Policy Statements. Nathan also chairs Bell’s Fund Committee, which selects investments and monitors capabilities for institutional clients and directs investment recommendations for wealth management clients. Additionally, he oversees the research for alternative investments and ESG portfolios.
Impact of COVID-19
COVID-19 has forced a number of adaptations in all aspects of life and work for people across the globe. Yet it hasn’t slowed the speed of business, especially in the investment industry.
Nathan remembers the third week in March when “everything became real” and Bell Bank sent home everyone who had the ability to work remotely.
“I went home immediately and worked only from home for three months solid,” he said.
In June, Bell Bank began a return-to-work approach based on personal choice.
“Lately, client meetings have been a mix of videoconference and in-person, depending on the preference of the organization I am meeting with,” he says. “In-person meetings are still different, however, with bigger rooms for social distancing and masks in some cases.”
A big move
A native of Fergus Falls, Minnesota, Nathan made very big decisions after high school. He pursued his education, becoming the first member of his immediate family to receive a bachelor’s degree or higher. He fell in love and married his wife, Jeanette, just ahead of their senior year in college. Together, they chose to move “somewhere warm” and selected Arizona after his wife was offered a teaching position in downtown Phoenix.
Nathan and Jeanette had no friends or family in Phoenix, but they fearlessly packed everything up and made a big move that lasted eight years.
Shortly after arriving in Arizona, Nathan started as a financial advisor at a comprehensive financial planning firm focusing on medical professionals. Later he had the opportunity to move over to Vanguard as a relationship manager in the firm’s High Net Worth department.
Path to becoming a CFA charterholder
Nathan originally planned to pursue the CFP credential because he hadn’t been as exposed to the CFA. Once he learned about the CFA, he knew “it was the track I wanted to go down.” He enrolled in the CFA program and transitioned within Vanguard to become an investment strategist for retirement plans.
After signing up for his first test, Nathan found out his wife was pregnant with their first child. He embraced his new role of helping to take care of a baby while soldiering forward with his studies, partnering with other professionals in a Vanguard CFA study group and networking with others studying at CFA Society Phoenix events.
As Nathan’s first child continued to grow and the Ericksons were blessed with two more children, they decided to “raise their kids in four seasons” and gift them with proximity to cousins, grandparents, aunts and uncles in the Upper Midwest.
CFA Society Minnesota to the rescue
Nathan credits Tom Crandall, CFA, CAIA, now a member of CFA Society Minnesota Board of Directors, as an essential colleague in helping him network and plug in to the region.
“Tom was tremendous in getting me connected,” Nathan says. “I was amazed at how many members who didn’t know me at all were willing to spend an hour with me.”
Nathan is always thankful for connections, but he soon realized that CFA Society Minnesota offers so much more through its amazing members.
“It’s nice being part of a community and meeting with people who have the same dedication to advancing their knowledge in the investment industry, share ideas and have similar career aspirations,” he says. “We are all numbers people and we tend to get along.”
Nathan explains his joy of work: “Some people who really love data are analysts. Others are relational and enjoy talking with people and getting to know them. And then there are people who are in the middle — that’s me.”
In Nathan’s own words
How did you get engaged in the industry?
I would say I didn’t truly “engage” in the industry until I found the CFA Society Minnesota. My first few years in the industry I was focused on surviving. It wasn’t until I had a few years of experience that I started to look outward. When I found out more about the CFA Institute and local societies, it was exciting to know that I could be a part of a community of professionals.
How do you engage with your community?
I am an executive mentor at the Minnesota State University Moorhead Business School. Each semester, I mentor seniors and help them understand the financial industry, types of jobs available, career tracks and designations. I also review résumés and help the students advance their writing and interviewing skills.
How do you spend your free time?
Free time, what’s that? We have three kids 6 years old and under, and for some reason, we recently added a puppy to the mix. Free time is hard to come by, but I do enjoy golfing, hunting, and going to the lake on weekends.
Nathan Erickson holds a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Minnesota State University Moorhead and an MBA from the University of Mary.